- Lead Designer: Anqi Ju
- Design Team: Shijiao Ying, Yuanyuan Li, Jingjie Yao, Yongsheng Gao
- City: Shanghai
- Country: China
Urban Corners Scheme, initiated by Greyspace Architects and Architect Jiawei Song, aims to take an architect's perspective to find the leftover space left in the city due to historical reasons, and overlay the new, elastic inserted space system on top of the existing building, so as to makes it a unique scene that can be seen, available, stayable and shared. As the first project of this scheme, Yongjia Road Youth Shared Space transforms a 30-square-meter urban space (formerly a delivery workstation and dormitory) squeezed into two 3-storey old garden houses into a shared public activity and accommodation space for young people in the future, so as to further introduce the urban public space into the building via the narrow lane outside the site, to make the meeting room with abstract symbols to continue the characteristics of the city street.
Fuzzy zone of outer space
After one hundred years of progressive development, the boundary between public and private space in the block where the project is located has gradually become blurred. Amid this cause, the street space and the interior space of the building were separated and juxtaposed with each other, and now intersected and covered, and will continue to invade each other, forming a more elastic pattern that allows for the symbiosis of different functions. "Guide to All Industries in Old Shanghai -- Road Agencies & Vendors' Residential Distribution Map" in 1947 showed that the "ZHI CHENG HALL" on the east side and the "China Middle School" on the south side of the project were built. The site of the project is part of the garden villa on the west side, and the path to the project site on the east side has been basically formed since then.
At present, the area where the project is located overlapped with a mixed block of multiple historical relics, such as garden houses before liberation, self-built houses after liberation and old public houses. Its entry mode is also typical. After entering the residential area from an unassuming lane on Yongjia Road, you need to walk along the narrow space between the walls for about 100 meters. On the left, you pass through a large iron gate and see a roadway. On the left, you see the back wall of the Chinese Middle School with a history of nearly 90 years, which is full of ivy. On the right side is the original ZHI CHENG HALL of the 3rd floor, which now houses about 12 families. The roadway is only about 2.5 m wide, and the entrance of this project is directly in front of it.
The alleyway opposite the main entrance of the project is a bit messy due to the superposition of historical relics. Among them, the laundry poles divide the sky into large and small squares, storm and gas pipes surround walls and air, plants climb on all surfaces, these are the stages of mutual invasion between public space and private space. As for the tunnel with too many elements to have too many features, the architects chose a "semi-open" architecture that blends public and private spaces at the end of the lane-way. On the one hand, from the main entrance, people in the outdoor space can see the canvas canopy covering the front area of the main entrance and the terrace above, forming a soft and complete interface as the opposite view of the roadway space. On the other hand, the grey space formed by the canvas canopy provides a spatial and visual buffer for the entrance at the end of the laneway, which reduces the pressure of the external public space invading the private space.
A Combination of Urban Imagery
As a matter of fact, the rich street scale and juxtapositions of history and contemporary landscape are important labels for the site. The gardens and streets in the landscape area, which are shaded by green trees, not only carry the childhood memories of the previous generation, but also are the fashionable places of the contemporary young people. From the perspective of space and texture, the designer projected the urban landscape as an image in the interior design, comparing the interior space combination to the general map of the city block, from the city to the interior, the lane to the public area, the residence to the room, and the smaller space such as the toilet as an auxiliary function.
Given the indoor reception area is defined as a place to have a rest at the entrance of the main lane, the designer chose the window sash with symbolic characteristics, wall lamps and the line lights that interweave crisscrosses under the ceiling, so as to create a sense of leisure in the outdoor space. The scattered relationship of height difference forms a centripetal space, whose boundaries are defined by three bedrooms with three windows, its panels are reprocessed from old elm wood, which is combined with the micro-cement material of the walls to give the building a rough outdoor feel. The relationship between the receiving area and the bedroom can be likened to the relationship between the lane and the house. The window sash on partition wall can be opened through different scale to decide the person in the bedroom to receive the participation degree of area activity.
Intensive Space with Small Scale
According to the necessary functions, the space is decomposed into two parts: the open public space and the narrow private space, which are separated by the load-bearing wall of the original brick and concrete structure. Given that the future users of this building are defined as a group of young people who are intimately connected, the designer therefore creates an opportunity for the two sides to communicate at the boundary between the bedroom area and the reception area. Also the opening of doors and windows becomes the carrier of multiple space overlap through the change of the depth relationship.
Besides, each bedroom has a window to the reception area, a window to the outdoor space and a door opening for access, allowing the user to decide which part of the external space to contact. The bedroom size can be very small. The designer arranged three groups of bedrooms with different elevations in the height of about 12㎡, and connected by a staircase. Different from the technique of material and image collage in the reception area, the designer used wood veneer to cover the bedroom area, in order to minimize the interference of materials on the space experience, and focus on the relationship between multiple Spaces.
Postscript：Urban Corners Scheme
As a loosely structured organization of architects, Urban Corners Scheme hopes that its members can return to daily life as observers of the city while doing design in an architectural firm, turn the surrounding Urban space into a rich resource, and intervene in the process of Urban micro-renewal projects with different perspectives of the architect role. In this project, the renewal method of corner space in a typical residential area mixed with old houses, old public houses and self-built houses in Hengfu District of Shanghai is discussed. In the future, new opportunities will be sought to explore a wider range of urban space.